The World's Concerns

Justice for Femi Campaign Flat 24 Vista Apartments, 23 Woodlands Crescent, Greenwich, London SE10 9UH +44 (0)7759 220157

Dear friends and comrades,

Many of you will know about Femi's campaign for reinstatement. If you don't then please read the background notes below. The Justice for Femi Campaign has been quite successful. Several Nigerian newspapers have covered our work and printed the international petition. The Nigerian Labour Congress is now backing the campaign and the British Trade Union Congress are considering whether they too can back it. But the truth is that there is a long way to go.

Femi is a lifelong trade unionist and socialist. He has fought against every military government in Nigeria for the last twenty-five years. For this he has been rewarded with more than two years in prison, where he was been beaten, starved and tortured. Through this Femi has remained a committed campaigner for the Nigerian working class, editing Labour Militant in the 1980s and then as a founding member of the radical, anti-privatisation National Conscience Party.

However as a result of the dismissal and victimisation he has been forced onto the breadline. He relies on the kindness of friends and family, who themselves face great hardship. We are keen to raise money to help both Femi and the campaign for his reinstatement. It is also hoped that if enough money is raised Femi will be invited to England for a "speaking tour." Making a donation to the campaign will hand a lifeline to one of Nigeria's most important and courageous trade unionists and activists.

Please make any donation you can through the bank account below, and email us (at the address above) to let us know what you have been able to contribute.

You can either send cheques to the above address (payable to Justice for Femi Campaign) or make direct payments to the account below:

Bank: Halifax plc

Account name: Justice for Femi Campaign

Account no. 00197760 Sort Code 11-14-35 Roll Number D/94561103-8

For transfers in US$ please instruct your bank to make the payment via the banks US correspondent, American Express Bank, New York. Quote Halifax plc SWIFT code -- HLFXGB22 and the account details above.

For transfers in all other currencies please arrange payments to be made via Bank of Scotland, Glasgow quoting:

Beneficiary Bank: Bank of Scotland, Glasgow. SWIFT code -- BOFSGB2S

For Account of: Halifax plc. Account No -- 53133

Beneficiary: The account details listed above


Yours fraternally,

Leo Zeilig and Dele Olawole

Background information

Employed in 1993 to work as a lecturer at the Polytechnic in Ibadan, Femi's work was always highly regarded and he has continued to produce original research on the labour movement and globalisation. But in December last year he received a letter stating that his work was "no longer required" on the grounds that the Polytechnic was being "restructured and reorganised." The Polytechnic's own procedures for dismissal were not followed, a committee to investigate the dismissal, as stipulated by the college authorities, was not established and his dismissal went unanswered.

The decision to remove him was transparently a political one. Femi has been a persistent and trenchant critic of those who run Oyo State, namely the Alliance for Democracy. In August 2000 the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) helped to organise a strike to demand an increase in wages to match the nationally approved wage structure for tertiary institutions. Femi was a key figure in organising that strike and as a leading campaigner in Nigeria he was a source of inspiration to others on the strike.

Within a few days of the strike being called, students independently held a huge and popular demonstration in support of the strike's demands. Police attacked the demonstration. The government alleged in the aftermath that students had destroyed state property. The Governor of the State personally denounced the students who he claimed had been led astray by leftwing and Marxist lecturers. A Commission of Inquiry was set up, and made the recommendation that radical lecturers and students must be "flushed out" of the Polytechnic of Ibadan. Femi's dismissal followed the publication of the report.

Despite the Polytechnic's claim that his dismissal was simply a question of "restructuring," another report by a Visitation Panel recommended that more lecturers be employed in Femi's old department, the Department of Business and Public Administration. Legal action has been taken by Femi's supporters in Nigeria but the reality is that the judiciary is not independent of the executive arm of the government; and the government employs and pays the judges. Despite this Femi is still determined to take his case through the courts.

Femi's suffering is that of his nation. Nigeria has undergone a political transition to a "democratic" government - a civilian regime - for which activists and campaigners like Femi have spent their lives fighting. It is in these circumstances that those campaigning for real democracy find themselves. The perplexing paradox that haunts Nigeria today is that everything has changed yet everything stays the same. Multi-National Companies still act with impunity in the oil rich south supported by a national government that claims it is committed to democracy and equality. As Femi has said, "the civilian government in Nigeria has proved to be more intolerant than military dictatorship."

The international campaign calling for the reinstatement of Femi Aborisade is a crucial fight. It is a way of supporting the continued struggle for democratic rights in Nigeria while expressing our solidarity with a person who, in his relentless battle for the working class and poor of Nigeria, is a lesson for us all. It is a terrible indictment of the current government that one of its most remarkable individuals has been forced into terrible hardship.
This could be an interesting experiential and intellectual debate between Dan Kashagama and Professor George Ayittey. You can also visit Dr. Ayittey's

Dr. Ayittey, Dan speaks for Africans who wonder why every time you write, you seem to be, let me make up a word "excusionist" for the West. I went to your page, largely devoted to Afro-pessimisms & recriminations, and read how you justified the conduct of Western countries that dump toxic waste materials in Africa. Your whole idea was that African leaders allowed it and accept payments. Where is conscientious restraint? Your observation of African leaders could be true, but why do you comically avoid calling the follies of the West?

When Africans raise their voices, you call them "radical Africans" who reduce the debate to North/South discriminations of sorts. Should this be a global trade issue? By the way, who are you calling radical Africans, a favorite branding from the West for "disobedient inferiors?"

Evelyn Joe


TRUE DEMOCRACY Spring 2002 Copyright © 2002 by News Source, Inc.